Culture

7 Movies that Are Just. Bad. Enough.

Kate Bosworth, Michelle Rodriguez, Sanoe Lake, Mika Boorem/Image © 2002 Universal Studios

You know the type: goofy enough for a mental vacation but not so inane that you become frustrated. It has a preposterous premise, hokey dialogue and unbelievable stunts, but the humor and the chemistry of the whole package just click. You find yourself grinning, delighting in it enough that you tell the more logical part of your brain to relax. That's right -- we're talking about really good bad movies.

A good bad movie inspires affection and loyalty in spite of its shortcomings. We know in “Independence Day” that Vivica Fox shouldn’t be able to kick open a padlocked door, that Will Smith likely couldn’t knock out an alien with one punch, or that the Empire State Building doesn’t sit in the center of the street -- but we give it a pass. We reach for it like a blanket when our toes get cold or we need to chill out because it’s familiar and fun, if a bit flawed. (And throwing in a little sand and surf doesn’t hurt, either.)

Here are some good bad movies we enjoy. Some are adaptations; some are originals. We bet you have some too.

“Sahara” (2005)
Matthew McConaughey dyed his hair dark to play Dirk Pitt, the underwater explorer, historian, and all-around hero who has starred in author Clive Cussler’s novels since the 1970s. This adventure adapts Cussler’s novel “Sahara,” sending Pitt and sidekick Al Giordino (Steve Zahn) out in search of Confederate treasure in the West African desert while simultaneously outwitting a dictator and helping a doctor (Penelope Cruz) track a plague. Cussler was none too pleased (he sued the producer for not consulting him on the script), and diehard Cussler fans might find McConaughey and Zahn too jovial. But come on: They’re looking for an ironclad ship that somehow crossed the Atlantic. They turn a crashed plane into a land yacht. The camaraderie feels genuine, and the light touch fits. “There’s no way that should’ve worked,” Pitt and Giordino say after one narrow escape. Somehow it does.

“Point Break” (1991)
Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow (“The Hurt Locker”) showed a flair for action movies early in her career with this flick about an FBI agent (Keanu Reeves) who goes undercover to find a gang of bank-robbing surfers known as the Ex-Presidents. The agent is a former college pro football star named Johnny Utah, and the dialogue between Utah and surf leader Bodhi (Patrick Swayze) is laughable. “She was my woman. We shared time,” Bodhi notes of a former flame. But the surfing and action pieces are so stunning -- Swayze did his own skydiving -- it’s hard not to get carried away. Added bonus for those of you in New York or Los Angeles: access to Point Break Live -- a live staging of the film in which each performance's Johnny Utah is chosen from the audience.

“Blue Crush” (2002)
Susan Orlean’s 1998 Outside magazine article “Life’s Swell” was the basis for this film starring Kate Bosworth and Michelle Rodriguez as friends who work as hotel maids in Hawaii to fund their passion for surfing. Bosworth’s character aims to compete professionally but has to overcome shaky confidence as a result of a near-drowning, plus the distraction of romantic complications with a vacationing NFL player. The real-life surfers and well-shot surfing scenes give the story verisimilitude, and Bosworth has endearing spunk.

“Deep Blue Sea” (1999)
Samuel L. Jackson meets a memorable demise in this horror film that traps the crew of an aquatic laboratory with three sharks that were mentally enhanced in an attempt to cure Alzheimer’s disease. Saffron Burrows plays the tinkering researcher, Dr. Susan McCallister; Thomas Jane takes on the role of shark wrangler Carter Blake; and LL Cool J is a cook called Preacher who knows his way around a submerged kitchen. (His parrot isn’t so lucky.) "Deep Blue Sea" is directed by action vet Renny Harlin (“Die Hard 2,” “Cliffhanger”).

“The Island” (2005)
Director Michael Bay tried his hand at science fiction for at least the first half of this film. Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson play inhabitants of a society hoping to live on a utopian island, only to learn they’re actually clones of real people grown for spare parts. (The creators of 1979’s “Parts: The Clonus Horror” sued for copyright infringement, and other viewers found similarities to Michael Marshall Smith’s novel Spares and the works of Philip K. Dick.) Critics thought the film didn’t explore the ethical issues as well as it could have -- but Bay isn’t known for nuance. The second half is a typical Bay spectacle, with flying motorcycles and giant falling letters. Even so, the performances are solid, and the dialogue is fun. McGregor in particular is a treat in two roles: the childlike but curious clone, and his original counterpart, who speaks in McGregor's native Scottish accent.

“Jurassic Park III” (2001)
Nominated for a Razzie for worst remake or sequel, this film, based on parts of Michael Crichton’s “Jurassic Park” and “The Lost World,” still offered enough jolts for Roger Ebert to call it “a nice little thrill machine.” A divorced couple (William H. Macy and Tea Leoni) trick paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) into accompanying them to Isla Sorna (the island from the film “The Lost World: Jurassic Park”) to find their missing son. Director Joe Johnston (“Captain America: The First Avenger”) keeps the action taut, and the dinosaurs look and act awesome. Laura Dern makes a welcome appearance as Grant’s ex-love from the first film and good friend in a pinch.

“Paycheck” (2003)
John Woo (“Face/Off,” “Mission: Impossible II”) directed this adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s short story of the same name about a reverse engineer (Ben Affleck) who has to piece together his work on a top-secret project from a series of everyday objects after his memory is wiped. Affleck was having a bit of a year, appearing in “Gigli” and “Daredevil,” and received a Razzie for the former. As for "Paycheck"? It received a dismal twenty-seven percent on Rotten Tomatoes. Still, the setup is clever -- he has a paperclip and a BMW key just when he needs them! -- and the rhythm is brisk. Save the world, find true love (the ever-lovely Uma Thurman) … what’s not to like?

Tell us below: What are your go-to good bad movies?

 

  • Christian Irizarry

    GLITTER (2001); 54 (1998); ROCK STAR (2001); CATWOMAN (2004); STRIPTEASE (1996); GLORIA (1999) Remake with Sharon Stone; DIRTY LOVE (2005); SHOWGIRLS (1995)

    • bfg666

      Catwoman is so bad it's depressing.

  • voodoodoc

    My guilty "how did I get here?" movie is Freddy Got Fingered -- if you take a step back and look at it from a different angle this movie is MASTERPIECE of Dadaist filmmaking. The piano sausage pulley scene in particular is Dali- worthy.

    • Tre

      Haha call me a freak, but I loved that movie. I thought it was halarious. I grew up watching tom green and understood the odd humor. The scene alone where he's wearing a suit backwards singing "I'm the backwards man" was funny to me. Or him taking a shower in full scuba and his dad frreaking out. They couldn't have picked a better role for the dad in that movie.. I could watch that movie again today and still find it pretty funny.

  • http://wordandfilm Craig Mauney

    The Highlander, it's beautiful to look at ,and has a neat idea, but the plot holes are big enough to drive a truck through. It's AWESOME!

    • NRDFLMCR17K7

      What about Highlander 2?

  • DougK

    The Island was a great film. It had everything going for it--a killer idea, star-power, and the action thrills. The critics probably wanted more moral hand-wringing & less spectacle, but as you point out, this was a Michael Bay flick. Steve Buscemi in particular shines as a noble loser who rises to the occasion when the heroes turn to him for help.

    I saw The Clonus Horror once on TV, and it was not very impressive; the protagonists were little more than sheep. The heroes in Bay's movie are smart, brave & resourceful, folks you can root for.

    Also, about Deep Blue Sea--Renny Harlin actually got to make another movie after "Cutthroat Island???"

  • http://www.facebook.com/milwaukeemovietalk Steve

    The FP worked for me. It has the most ridiculous premise but the own it and never wink at the camera.

  • Steve

    Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter. Sooooooooooooooo horrifically brilliant. The cliche reveal of the villain scene, you expect something epic but no no, his name is fucking Adam. I view this movie as a comedy. I know that was not the intention of the production company or the director, but almost every line in the film is hard to take in even with the slightest amount of seriousness. Hollywood's main job is to bring the unthinkable and illogical to life and make it believable, whether it is an adolescent defeating a "dark lord" with sorcerer y or a talking dog leading an old man and Asian child to paradise falls. But nay I say to this film. At no point did I believe that one of the most historically relevant figures in American culture was capable of hunting down the undead. And that my disciples, is why i view Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter as a comedic effort in the messed up waste of space that is my brain. It takes itself waaaaaay too seriously.

  • Avery

    Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter is #1 for me. The park fight scene is genius.

    • bfg666

      The title alone makes me want to watch this!

  • Linda

    I literally just finished watching Blue Crush 25 minutes ago. What a terrible, terrible movie. The acting is awful, the special effects are laughable and the plot is just dumb. I don't understand why not one of the main characters was a native Hawaiian. Maybe Michelle Rodriguez was so scarred by the movie that she just stayed on the island and waited for Lost to begin.

  • http://yahoo.com Otis

    Troll 2, duh!

  • John Taylor

    Nothing worth the price of a ticket on this list. However, Sahara is good enough to occupy a couple of hours on tv.

  • mplo

    "The Town", starring Ben Affleck, Jeremy Renner and Rebecca Hall, imho, is a film that's so crappy that it's good. It's a piece of junk, but it has produced some rather lively discussions.

  • Cmack

    new favorite: Magic Mike!

  • Brian

    Army of Darkness! Best bad movie of all time!

  • Vance

    The Happening because it's built on a premise so hilariously overwrought that the film should never work, ever (and it doesn't) but Shyamalan's direction gives the movie weight (when it's clearly not deserved) and the performances across the board are hilariously awful/awesome.

  • http://radioactivezombiewerewolves.blogspot.com/ Jess Hurley

    DEEP BLUE SEA wasn't bad. It is probably the 2nd best shark movie ever made. POINT BREAK was also very good. I am not sure how either of these ended up on a "bad" list. Okay so on to the actual question. 1. MAMMOTH (2006) (best bad movie ever made) This is the one with Summer Glau. Check it out.l 2. INFESTATION (2009) (probably the second best bad movie ever made). 3. HANSEL & GRETEL WHICH HUNTERS (2013) (overall this movie will be put in the bad category by most, but it's actually pretty freakin great. 4. BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER (1992) A lot of people hated this, but it is far far better than the TV series of the same name. 5. BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA (1986) at the time it got ripped by every critic on the planet and bombed at the box office. Now it is considered one of the greatest cult classics of all time. I have seen a few people post ABRAHAM VAMPIRE HUNTER but that movie was just flat out EPIC. There was simply nothing to dislike about it. If you walked in expecting campy crap and got disappointed that is too bad. Instead fans got a hardcore blast of a film that played out like a serious historical flick and that is what made it top notch.

  • NRDFLMCR17K7

    My guilty pleasure movies are Way of the gun with Ryan Philippe and Benicio Del Toro,Final Destination any of them.sliver with Sharon stone. It just keeps going I hold my remote and watch in shame oh joe dirt :-)

  • giorgio palmas

    Peter Jackson's Braindead (Dead Alive in the States). Best scene- a priest taking on zombies in a graveyard. "I kick arse for the Lord!"

    • jasonjrf

      OK Dead Alive is the goriest movie ever made ever by far. But listen guys if you watch Dead Alive do not do not do not watch the R one. Watch the Unrated version or directors cut or whatever. I think it's the Unrated one its soo much better. Lawn Mowers when you think the scene ended he just made a line through and it's just begining. Fucking great movie

  • Andrew

    Birdemic: The Shock and Terror

  • Michelle

    Paycheck was a GREAT movie! I loved it. One movie I would add to this list? The Tuxedo. Ridiculous, but funny and very entertaining.

  • Jace

    D.O.A. (Dead or Alive)

    It's based off a game (which is never a good sign) but with the martial arts, Jamie Pressly's sassy comments and some incredibly laughable not-so-special effects, it's now a favourite of mine. I still can't tell when I'm laughing with it or at it. My go to movie when I need mindless entertainment.

  • kkante

    None of this movies is nearly bad enough to be a so good that its good movie. Check out the following ones: star crash; wizards of the lost kingdom; spartacus and the ten gladiators; plan 9 from outer space.. when unsure, ckeck if it is an italian movie. Italy is an endless source of unintentional comedy when it comes to bad movies.

  • http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0291502/ Glenn

    Swept Away with Madonna. She can't act but the little known co-star is great and it's wonderful to see her with a little humility since she seems so brash in real life. Guy Ritchie directs and does a great job. I love this film. It's really, really bad, but it's really, really fun to watch Madonna get taken down a peg or two - and of course the scenery is fantastic. Very enjoyable, can't stop watching.

  • Jo

    Broken Arrow, the ranger is hilarious. Also Face Off, another beauty.

    • Patricia Beatt

      I love Broken Arrow! Slater to Travolta, "Your insane." Travolta, "yeah, ain't it cool." lol

  • Blake

    I don't understand the hate for 'The Island'. Granted its not the most psychologically complex films around, but I still think, mostly for the reasons mentioned in this article, that its a pretty solid flick and kind of a good moment for Bay (who I also think gets a lot of undeserved hate.)

  • The Guy

    The Room

  • Patricia Beatt

    I can't believe "Paycheck" is on this list! I LOVE this movie. It's like McGiver. I don't consider it a bad movie that one loves. It's a good movie. Love the attention to detail. Only problem is the end when Affleck is supposed to be dead. So how does he cash the lottery ticket? Whose name does he use? Anyway, I always watch it when it's on. Patty Beatty

  • http://Cocoanicole95@gmail.com Erica J.

    The Queen of Dammed(2002)

  • Ricki

    Lucy!

  • MrSatyre

    Nope, those are all just bad period.

  • Richard Rider

    Point Break...bad? Your argument is invalid!

  • johnjohnphenom

    Last action hero is my jam. And everytime I see that movie airheads on tv I have to watch it.

  • Lisa Annmarie

    Undead or Alive and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. So bad they're brilliant.

  • Uranium Willy

    Deep Blue Sea doesn't belong in this list, it was intentionally silly, it was trying to be taken seriously and failed. Some of these other films might also be the same, Point Break for example but not as obviously as Deep Blue Sea.

  • too embarrased

    Practical Magic. I actually hide the DVD and would never admit to watching it once a year. Everything about it is cliched, dated, hokey as hell, but you keep coming back for the fantasy of living in a Victorian mansion and affording retail space for your own woo woo shop without any visible means of support.

  • Sarahea

    My fave go-to love-to-hate and hate-to-love is Triple X with Vin Diesel. Great story and action sequences with diabolical script and shaky acting...but it's so much fun!